Julianne Hough, the popular two-time champion of Dancing with the Stars, is in Nashville finishing her debut country album for Universal Music Group.
Let me state the obvious: This 19-year-old is going to be a huge country star. She has a powerful voice, irresistible beauty and a warmth and enthusiasm that are contagious. Oh, yes, and she has quite the following from a show that attracts 20 million viewers weekly.
"We recorded this summer, and we finished about three or four tracks," says Julianne, who is produced by David Malloy. "When the season of Dancing with the Stars started, I was completely slammed, so as soon as it finished, I came out here the first week of December.
"We've been recording; it's been going amazing. Everything that we have recorded so far we are ecstatic about."
Julianne, who is looking for a Nashville home, has been writing songs with her Nashville-based singer/songwriter sister, Marabeth Poole.
"Country music has always been my favorite style and format," Julianne says. "I love the people; I love how real it is. I love that the fans that listen to country music don't want you to change, don't want you to keep changing your image or changing who you are to keep up with the format, whereas I know that's how pop happens a little bit. I love the realness; you can be yourself."
The first single, which hasn't been determined, will be released mid-February. So far, it looks like her debut will be a ballad. "New artists usually go with up-tempos, but I want to do something different because people are going to expect me to dance if it's an uptempo, and I don't want that," she says. "Obviously, I will dance because that is my passion too, but that comes later."
How will she combine her country music shows with dancing (which you know her fans will expect)? "It's hard because Dancing with the Stars is all Latin and ballroom dancing, and country music and Latin and ballroom aren't necessarily the same," she says with a laugh. "I'll definitely incorporate something. I can't sit still. I'll obviously dance."
She loves everything about Nashville, especially the musicians. "I don't think I've stopped smiling since I've been here."
ABC's Dancing with the Stars will pick back up for her in late February and likely run through May. Julianne's album is expected to be released in May or June, and talks are under way for her to open on a country tour. "I love performing live," she says. "That is one of the biggest rushes, when you can feel the audience's energy."